Never Underestimate Your Potential

[blockquote source=”Micah 3:8 (NLT)“]But as for me, I am filled with power–with the Spirit of the LORD. I am filled with justice and strength to boldly declare Israel’s sin and rebellion.[/blockquote]

Low Batt
Just the other day I was caught in a situation where all my devices were running low on battery. And I had about 8 hours to fill. On my iPhone I have loads of personal development audio sessions. But because I am running low, I was not able to listen to them for fear that the battery will run dry way too soon. I’ve used my BlackBerry to do most of my writing. But because I was running low, I decided to conserve whatever is left for making that important call or to send those critical messages. My Kindle library has hundreds of books, but again because of battery power, I was not able read as much as I’d like.

All three devices have just so much potential. But because they were not filled with power, they were pretty much useless. In fact, at one point, these devices began weighing down on me and they felt more like a burden than an asset.

Unlimited Potential
The same can be said of humans. We all have unlimited potential to do the things that sometimes amaze ourselves. How we are able to send a man to the moon and bring him back. How we are able to run the 4 minute mile. And the reason why we all have unlimited potential is because of the Holy Spirit. That God has filled us the moment we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Never Underestimate Your Potential
For many of us, what we can now do could have been just a figment of our imagination previously. Therefore, we must never underestimate the potential that we have once we are filled with the Holy Spirit.

Prayer
Father, I thank You for filling us with the Holy Spirit and for us to be able accomplish what’s been previously only a dream. We pray all these in Jesus name, Amen.

Do You Ignore God’s Call?

[blockquote source=”Jonah 1:17 (NIV)“]Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.[/blockquote]

Disobedience
I had this calling for sometime now, to do God’s work. When it was first communicated to me, I denied it outright. I told God, I didn’t have the skill, I didn’t have the know-how, and I am too old to do this. Besides, how would I do it in my current capacity as a consultant for schools? Besides, if I were to do it, how am I going to provide the best for my family? And so I told God, no I won’t do it as my circumstances do not allow me to.

Distress Call
However, I cannot get this out of my head. It’s like one of those situations where every corner you turn, it is staring right at you in the face. It is as if God has put up a million notices all around town just to get me to reconsider it. After, what seems like a broken record playing in my head, I decided that I’d would do it and pray to God to help guide me and to make it happen for me.

God’s Love
Sometimes, in fact, almost all the time, we do not understand God’s plan. Why would He do this? Why would He save us? I think we do not understand because we do not truly understand God’s love, His unfailing love. Looking for that one lost sheep. Searching for that one coin. Throwing a party to welcome back the prodigal son. It is beyond our comprehension.

But this, we need to know. It is because of His love that’s why we can love. It is inside of us for we are created in His likeness.

Call For Action
So, my friend, if God has spoken to you and have asked you to do His work but you have doubts or are simply at a lost of how to do it; drop me an email. I’d love to hear your story, tell your story, and help you get on the journey to do His glorious work.

Prayer
Father, we thank You for Your unfailing love and most importantly for Your forgiveness even when we have been disobedient. Please guide us in our journey as we do Your glorious work. In Jesus name, Amen.

How To Integrate Your Worldly Life With Your Spiritual One

[blockquote source=”Obadiah 1:15 (NIV)“]The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.[/blockquote]

Police and Thief
One of the games we played when we were little was “police and thief”. The game involves one “police” and the rest as “thieves”. The goal of the “police” was to catch as many thieves as possible, while at the same time guarding the “police station”.

No matter who I play the game with, everyone wants to be the “police” even though it involves a great deal of running and chasing the “thieves”.

Spiritual and Worldly Lives
That’s much like how we see the two lives as Christians, spiritual and worldly lives. The spiritual life is like the “police”, and the worldly life is like that of the “thieves”.

Because of the original sin, we’d always be hiding from God our sins, iniquities, and transgressions. It is like how we would always be running from the “police”.

Unless we confess and repent, we’d also be running for much of our lives. Doing so will not only wear us out unnecessarily, but in the end, God’s will will always prevail.

Dichotomy?
As Christians, one of our greatest struggle is to reconcile our worldly life with our spiritual one. At times they seems like poles apart. It appears as if when we go into the marketplace, we tend to put the spiritual life aside.

There appears to be a dichotomy. Or is there?

How To Align
I used to struggle with these two worlds; seeing them as mutually exclusive. There would be times where I would question how does helping schools with their strategies and staff management align with the spiritual world?

I would also sometimes question how does reading of the Bible help me do my work better or help me become a better person?

And does it mean that if I want to pursue my spiritual goals, must I sacrifice my worldly goals? Does it mean that if I want to pursue my spiritual goals, I must study theology and become a pastor in order to spread the message?

Prayer

Father, as I lay my head down tonight, I pray that You’d forgive me for my sins for I have fallen short. In Christ name I pray, Amen.

Is This What Life Is All About?

[blockquote source=”Psalm 131:1 (NIV)“]My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.[/blockquote]

Is This What Life Is All About?
There are times where you’d just wonder, “is this all there is, is this what life is all about?”

Do Great Things
Many of us aspire to do great things. Oftentimes this may involve leading a big group of individuals, or leading a large congregation, or it could be striving to eliminate poverty or AIDS or child trafficking. In other words, we were looking for a cause to pursue which will enable us to make a significant impact on the world. Different people would have different reasons for doing so. Some for personal glory, yet others total altruism.

Six Human Needs
I’ve always liked Tony Robbins’s six human needs as a framework to guide me in evaluating my purpose of why I want to accomplish something. Sometimes that need I am satisfying is simply to ensure “certainty”. While other times, it was essentially a need to feel “significant”.

Hence, when seeking to accomplish a task like leading a cause, it is critically important to ask ourselves which need are we trying to satisfy?

Are Your Goals All About You?
So, as I review the goals for the coming year, today’s verse serves as a reminder for me, am I wanting to achieve all these because of significance, growth, connection/love, or to contribute?

Because fundamentally the first two needs (significance and growth) are more “me” centered, while the next two (connection/love and contribution) are more “others” centered.

Others-Centered? Me-Centered?
Must it be always “others” centered and not “me” centered? Absolutely not. As human beings, we all have those six needs. No one is capable of simply focusing only on others, without first addressing the “me” centered ones. For instance, it would be almost impossible for most people to simply go out and start a cause even if it means they might get killed in the process. Though there are people like these, it’s just that they are drawing their sense of certainty from elsewhere. For many of us, the thought of threatened personal safety is enough to keep us recoiled. While others may draw upon their faith as their source of certainty.

The point is, how we satisfy those needs can be different for each of us. But the key message here is this: we all need to understand and then decide which works best for ourselves. For some it may be all about their sense of accomplishment, while others it may be their sense of fulfillment.

Answers To The Question
Once we have identified and are aware of why we do what we do, then we can adequately answer the question of, “is this all there is, is this what  life is all about?”

Prayer
Father we pray that You guide us in examining our own hearts as we craft the goals that will propel our lives moving forward and for us to have that greater clarity of why we do what we do. In Jesus name, Amen.

How To Become A Class Act

[blockquote source=”Proverbs 29:22 (NIV)“]An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.[/blockquote]

Emotional Mastery
If there is one thing I’d like to change about myself, that would be how I manage my emotions. To put it lightly, I sometimes do not manage my emotions well enough. I believe that our ability to handle or manage our emotions is critical not only to our success but also how it would impact our relationships with other people.

So, how can we do it?

Sometime back, I picked up an extraordinary audio program titled, “Make Yourself Unforgettable: The Dale Carnegie Class-Act System“. The program presented, among others, five key principles that we can apply in order to make ourselves unforgettable; to make ourselves a Class Act.

Waiting in line…
One of the narrative was about you being in line at your local Starbucks. Its 8:45am and you’d need to be at your desk by 9am. And having waited for what seems to be like eternity, it was just down to you and the person in front. The problem is, that person is taking a long time to decide on the order. Tall or Grande? Whole milk or skim? With whip-cream or without whip-cream? And all you want is just coffee, nothing fancy. But because this person is taking way too long to decide, you are now faced with a situation where your emotions are being aroused.

Do you lose your cool? Do you yell at this person? And even if you do, would it help? What can you do?

Dealing with Emotions
The key to understanding how to deal with a situation like this is the following: being aware of your perception of the situation and your projection of that perception. This requires a little unpacking.

Our perception of any given situation is based entirely on our own interpretation. However, that interpretation may or may not be accurate. One example quoted by Stephen Covey was his experience while riding on the subway one day. There in the same cabin was this man and his two young children. After a while, the children became restless and starting creating a din disturbing the other commuters. At one point, Covey thought to himself, how this man should have better discipline his children rather than just sitting there. It came to a point where Covey went over and spoke to the man, appealing to him to control his kids as they are disturbing others. The man replied saying he agreed but as they’ve just came back from the hospital where the kids mother just died and he guessed the kids are still trying to deal with it. Until that moment, it couldn’t have occurred to Covey, but that immediately changed his perception. And because of that perception, it changed the projection of his attitude and behavior towards the man and his children.

We can all be experiencing the same event, but our perception and hence our interpretation of it could be very different from others. But until we are able to more accurately align our perception to others, we may end up being judgemental and worse, being impatient with others. And as a result, our actions, which are effectively the projection of our perception, will reflect accordingly.

How to become a Class Act
One of the tips I picked up from the Dale Carnegie program is this: Write down your thoughts and beliefs that occurred during the course of the day. At the end of the day, closely examine these thoughts and beliefs to see if these are at all misconceptions.

We truly need to first change our perception if we at all want to be able to change ourselves in the long term.

Prayer
Father, I pray to have a heightened awareness of my thoughts and beliefs that will affect the attainment of my goals, including the one on being a role model for my children. And I pray this sincerely in Jesus name, Amen.

Think Before You Speak

[blockquote source=”Proverbs 29:20 (NLT)“]There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.[/blockquote]

Think before you speak
Have you ever said something to someone only to regret it almost immediately?

This just happened to me yesterday. I was feeling a little overwhelmed with the many to-dos on my list that I haven’t had time nor energy to get round to doing it. Besides, with two active children in the household, where their sleeping routines are not synchronized and with the many household tasks that need to be completed; I was feeling less than inspired to say the least.

And so I said something to my wife and son that I wish I didn’t; almost immediately after I’ve said it.

In truth, I know they will both understand my circumstances and will forgive me.

Trust and Love at Home
They will forgive me because there’s trust and love at home. Hence when something like this happens, family members would usually understand and forgive and move on. The prerequisite to that is that you must have already built that a high level of trust or have made deposits into their emotional account such that an episode like this will blow over in no time.

However, when this happens too often, the withdrawals made might be more than whatever has been deposited, hence, creating a deficit.

And especially in this domain, it is easy to think that such episodes are small and insignificant. And assume that family members will understand and love you nonetheless. And hence, one might be tempted to continue like this until it becomes irreparable.

Family as the last line of defense
There is nothing more disastrous than an estranged family relationship. Family is usually the last line of defense. Where you may not be loved or appreciated by others; family should always be there for you.

I still remember that when the dot-com company I joined went bust and the working relationships amongst us went south with threats and lawsuits impending, I’d know that my parents would still love me nonetheless. And in fact, that was the thing that kept me going which eventually led me to start my own consulting practice. Without that emotional security that I’d always be loved, I don’t think I would be able to survive even another day. Or perhaps I will survive physically but deep down I might be dead many times over.

Making amends
I am off to making my amends in the morning when I see both my wife and kids. And it is true that there is more hope for a fool than someone who speaks without thinking.

Prayer
Father, please forgive me for I have spoken hastily and caused hurt and pain to You and all those around me. Father, please guide me as I build my emotional strength so that I am better empowered to manage my emotions rather than allowing my emotions to manage me. In Christ name I pray, Amen.

Where There Is No Vision…

[blockquote source=”Proverbs 29:18 (NIV)“]Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.[/blockquote]

Where there is no vision…
One of the Bible verses that have always resonated with me was this: “where there is no vision, the people perish”.

As someone who is more skewed towards the “planning” profile, it is no wonder why this verse resonated with me so well. I have always believed that unless you have a goal in life, you will live aimlessly.

And if you are aimless, then everything could excite you or nothing could excite you. Hence you’d be easily bored but comfortable.

As a result, when I first heard the verse I was like a fly attracted to light.

Different translations
It was not until I decided to find out which specific verse this is taken from, that I’d realize that it isn’t even listed in the NIV. The NIV is my first and only translation of the Bible that I’ve used for my reading as well as my Bible study.

Then it puzzled me even further to realize that many translations do not even use the term “vision”, except for King James.

Interpretation of Scriptures
As I research further, one of the principles of Bible study was to not interpret the Bible based on your own experience. What this means is that one must not use Scripture to simply support what you are doing.

Examples of how to interpret
A very simple example of how this can be (mis)used is this very verse. A church leader could quote this verse from the Bible and proclaim that that’s why the church needs a new and bold vision to build a megachurch and hence asks for donations to support the building of the church. Where there is no vision.

I’ve also heard business leaders who quote this verse (just the first part – “where there is no vision, the people perish”) and proclaim that’s why your business needs a vision. Thats why you need to have a personal vision. And how important it is to have a written vision statement.

Having a vision is great, but…
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong to have a vision statement for your company, business, or even yourself. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to build a megachurch and having that kind of grand vision. In fact, I firmly believed that vision is so under estimated that we don’t write (or re-write) our vision statement enough. And having goals are great. Because they keep you focused on where you are going.

There’s nothing absolutely wrong with having a vision. But it is dead wrong when you use the Scriptures and bend it’s meaning and intend just to support what you are saying.

Do not bend the meaning
In other words, it is wrong to think of: I’ve already written out the idea and now I just need to look for that one verse in the Bible to support it. Its like, now that I have written out our company’s vision statement, where none existed before. Now I have to convince my people, many whom I know are Christians, to accept it. Hence let’s use Proverbs 29:18 “where there is no vision, the people perish”.

Instead, it is quite the opposite. Its about first understanding God’s will and obeying it, then align what we do to it. An example would be: in my review of my body of work, how can I make sure that it is meaningful, not just for me but for others too? What are my end goals and how can I align these goals to God’s will?

God’s revelation
In fact, the NIV translation of this verse is this: the revelation is revelation of God’s will. If we do not know what’s God’s will; it is not revealed to us, then people may just go wild and do whatever they see fit. Some may even start a flesh trade and proclaim that it is satisfying a need, albeit a immoral one. And so, if we do not know God’s will, but if we keep to His laws, we will be happy.

His law is simply this: love one another.

Prayer
Father I pray that I will be able to keep this law in my personal, people, and professional domains. In Jesus name, Amen.

God’s Will Be Done

[blockquote source=”Psalm 127:1 (NIV)“]Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.[/blockquote]

Five-year Plan
As I plunge into the thick and thin of crafting my five-year plan going forward, I’ve included outcomes of different areas of my life. This includes dimensions from spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, time, financial, relational, and professional.

Holistic approach
I believe that in setting goals, we need to strive towards a holistic approach rather than to focus only of some areas. Typically, one would set goals in areas such as financial and professional. These are usually the areas that most people gravitate towards. Unless one has a conscious focus on areas such as physical and relational; these are normally left out until a crisis looms.

Labor in vain
From today’s verse, we may expend all our resources to work towards the goal and yet labor in vain. So the question that I am struggling with is basically how do we ensure that our efforts are not in vain?

The answer, my friends, is two-fold. One, our goals must be aligned to God’s will. Two, the approach in which we will take is that of love.

Love one another
God’s will is simply this: to love one another. That’s it. When we love another there will be many things we would do for that person. We would go the extra mile, we would labor day and night, we would even endure the suffering in order to get the job done. In other words, we will do whatever it takes.

Do it with love
That said, one may do whatever it takes, but do so in a disgruntled manner. Where it is filled with anger, hatred, jealousy. That’s not the way that God wants you to approach your work. God wants me to approach my work with love.

So, brothers and sisters, it may be worthwhile for you to review the goals you have written, to see if those goals are in alignment with God’s will and also examine the approach that you’d take when doing the work.

Prayer
Father, we pray that as we craft and review the goals we have written, we are filled with the wisdom to align them to Your will. And as we execute our actions towards the goal, we do it with love, just like how Jesus does it. In Jesus name, Amen.

Are You Passionate About Your Work?

[blockquote source=”Psalm 126:6 (NIV)“]Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.[/blockquote]

Designing the Experience
During one of my seminars on using Design Thinking as a strategic tool in creating a whole new level of school experience; I had the participants first identify an issue that their students were facing. To illustrate with an example; one of the groups identified the issue as “absenteeism”.

Next, I had the group re-craft the issue in the form of a question, rather than a statement. This went from: “high absenteeism among a small percentage of low progress students” to “why do these low progress students stay away from school“.

At this juncture, I’d ask the participants to examine if their questions were phrased from an administrator’s perspective or from the student’s perspective. Many of the would realize immediately that during this whole time they were staring at the issue from an administrator’s perspective.

Their next task is to re-craft the questions with the students in mind.

True Empathy
This is where almost all participants would hit the wall. Many will struggle with rephrasing the question and at this point, they began to realize that all this while, they’ve always claimed to be more student-centric but up until now do they realize that their point of view was still pretty much from the administrator’s standpoint. In fact, some of them had simply assumed that as an administrator, they’d know what’s best (or right) for the students; so much so that they sometimes dismissed what and how the students feel.

Reframing the Question
After several attempts, some would managed to get it, while others would still struggle with the reframing exercise. Continuing from our example, the team finally agreed upon the following as their Design Challenge: “how can the experience of attending school for the low progress students be further enhanced“.

Teaching is more than a job
Teaching is always seen as one of those vocations that is not just a job, but a calling. It is the kind of work that you’d hear people say, “I chose to be an educator because teaching has always been my passion“.

Choose the work that you are passionate about
Some of us would recall the idea of choosing the work that is aligned to your passion, and when you do that, time will just fly by and you would be in the moment and it would not even feel like work. In fact, you’d be so happy and engaged in your work that it no longer feel like work. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Just ask any teacher.

Passion – Suffer
In fact, the word passion is derived from the Latin word, pati, which means to suffer or endure.  Now, if you ask any teacher if their work feels like that, you’d almost always get an affirmative answer.  To be honest, I did not know of the origin of the word passion until I read the book, Die Empty by Todd Henry.

If you recalled the movie, The Passion of the Christ, you’d remember that Christ endured the beatings and suffered on the Cross, just so that we can be saved.  That’s passion.

3Cs
The Psalmist reminds us in today’s verse that we should embrace the 3Cs:

  • Compassionate: to be empathetic of others’ distress
  • Commitment: determined to find a way to alleviate it
  • Cheerfulness: so that others can be saved

Prayer
Father, we thank You for Jesus’s passion, for enduring the beatings, for suffering on the Cross, so that we can be saved.  Father, we pray that You will guide us as we become more compassionate towards the distress of others, be committed to the cause to find a way to alleviate it so that we can bring cheerfulness to those who are saved.  We pray all these in Jesus name, Amen.

The Best Way To Do Your Work

[blockquote source=”2 John 1:6 (NIV)“]And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.[/blockquote]

Time of Your Life
I ordered the “Time of Your Life” program from Tony Robbins after at least pondering over it for the last three years. The main factor that held me back was cost. I mean, these audio programs are not cheap. But other than cost, there is another factor that held me back – effectiveness. I mean, how different can a time management planning system be?

It turns out that the key difference between this and all other planning system was this – other planning systems focus on what you have to do.

Be-Do-Have
I’ve recently drew up three goals for myself. These are sort of lifetime goals. As I reviewed the notes that I’ve taken recently; I noticed a very interesting pattern.  The first goal is a “be” goal, the second a “do” goal, and the third is a “have” goal.
It is interesting because I believe that in order for us to fulfill our purpose in life, we have to start with the “be“. Thats the identity, essentially it’s about who we are.

Once we have established the identity, the next critical step is to ask, “how would we do it?

Best Way to do Your Work
I mean, I could have an identity of being an entrepreneur. And I want to provide products and services to help others meet their needs. In doing so, I would want to be rewarded in some financial terms. Now, question is, what is my disposition when I am providing the products and services? As you know, there are some companies that make you feel like, you should count your blessings to be able to use their services. And there are companies that provide their services in a delightful manner, but they may not be the best in their industry.

Question now is how would you do it? How, not so much the strategy but how as in what is the kind of energy would you bring when you do your work?

Show me the Plan
As I read today’s verse, I can’t help but ponder over Jesus and his disciples. I don’t think He showed them some five-point plan. I don’t even think that Jesus told them that there’s going to be a pot of gold at the end of the journey. In fact, they not only gave up their jobs, but also their lives just to follow Him.

Question
And in our current context, we are always looking for that strategic plan moving ahead. But more importantly the question we have to ask is: what is the best way to do your work?

Prayer
Father I thank You for guiding me through to my 90th devotions since I started in September. Father, I pray that You would open our hearts; the hearts of my readers and me, as we carry out our life’s work. That we do it love, as You’ve commanded so that our work would serve as a contributory growth to others. In Jesus name, Amen.